Magic-Lakers: NBA Finals, Game One

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Magic-Lakers: NBA Finals, Game One
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Well, the Anthony Johnson experiment didn't work out so well—at least not in Game One.

Here he is doing what he did for the full 48—sitting the bench.

Jameer Nelson came back and hit his first shot, and from there it was all over for our ex-Net buddy.

I thought he maybe had a shot of seeing some garbage time, but the NBA gods did not smile on him today.

Anyways onto my thoughts from Game One—aka, the Lakers' shellacking of the Magic:


First of all, they're all not going to be this easy for the Lakers surely. But from watching this game today you have to think the Lakers are just the better team, and may have too much offensively for the Magic to handle.



Kobe. Mamba. Here's the thing about Kobe. He is just an extraordinary shot-maker.

Turning around towards traffic, getting hit, and banking it in from the center of the lane? Check. Slashing from the wing through two defenders, hanging in midair, avoiding shot blocker and finish with right hand across his body? Check. Coming off a handoff, fading away with a hand in his face to his right? Check.

While Kobe did have a lot of rhythm shots, as Dwight pointed out after the game, he did take and make his fair share of difficult shots—but the thing is, he makes the difficult seem and look routine.

I also loved his use of ball screens. He proved that if you have proper spacing, you can literally walk a defender who knows the screen is coming up to a screen, and he'll still get stuck on it—as Kobe did entangling Pietrus in a Gasol screen.

Final thought on Kobe—I absolutely love the underbite face. I saw him break it out in Game Six against the Nuggets, and I saw it again tonight after he made that bank shot and One in the third quarter. Love it.



You would think Dwight Howard would destroy Pau Gasol, right? Well, it didn't happen tonight.

The thing about Gasol is he's a smart defender. And granted, the times he was isolated with Dwight, the Lakers sent some help‚at least guys like Fisher and Kobe stunting at him—but Gasol is crafty and picked up two offensive fouls on Howard. You have to remember Gasol has been through some wars not just in the NBA but in Europe. While he never played anyone of Howard's physical stature in the Euroleagues, he did pick up some tricks as evidenced tonight.

Howard also just isn't there yet as an offensive player. He needs to slow himself down and make his moves despite those guards coming down and slapping at the ball. One quick move, and the important thing is finish. He had some opportunities near the rim tonight that he failed to convert.

 

Odom should start getting some credit on the defensive end. He's always known as sort of a virtuoso offensive player, but his skills translate nicely to the opposite side of the ball as well. Much different having him closeout on Rashard shooting a three than Delonte West, huh?

I think Rashard made the correct adjustment simply stepping by the sprinting Odom, but it seemed like Rashard was indecisive on whether to go all the way into the rim or settle for a pull up. He sort of got stuck in that in-between shot that he missed.
Can Courtney Lee defend Kobe Bryant? I've read and heard a lot about how smart a defender CLee may be, and that's fine. But Kobe might just be too strong, and too smart for him.

I wrote on Twitter that I couldn't wait for a Kobe clinic at the pinch post.  While it may not have been clinic-worthy from that position alone, it was clear that was where he wanted the ball when Lee was on him.  More times than not, he can get that turn-around shot essentially uncontested.



Two things I noticed about the Magic's fashion choices. First of all, where did Dwight get that arm sleeve with the silver lines on it? I don't think that sleeve is too hip, I'll be honest. Second, has Jameer Nelson always played with his mouth guard hanging out of his mouth? I understand luck and comfort—but that just seems unnecessary.



Vince Carter gave Brook Lopez this tip in the beginning of the season, and I think someone should pass it along to Andrew Bynum: Try and dunk everything! Bynum, you're seven feet tall, you got defenders bouncing off you and flying by you under the basket, and you're going up weak and trying to lay it in?

Maybe he doesn't have his usual explosion because of his knees—but for godsakes, go up with two hands and throw that thing in!



If you're Orlando, how excited are you that a lot of the success you're going to have in this series is if Rafer Alston can make the Lakers pay by consistently hitting from outside?



Mickael Pietrus was secretly (or not, but doesn't seem like many people are talking about it) a good signing for the Magic. I like him a lot as a player. He has good size and athleticism, and can shoot the ball. I felt he really competed against Kobe the times he was on him, and he seemed to have pretty active hands.

He seems like a guy who would have served pretty well in the Nellieball system over at GSW—but maybe he just didn't get enough minutes behind S. Jackson?

 

Final thought: Dwight Howard, the same message goes to you that goes to LeBron. Time to just play the game, son.

We get it. You like to have fun Dwight, we get it. There comes a time though when fun has to be checked at the door and business time has to take over. Dwight, that time was weeks ago, but why not start now?

Don't do your stupid fall-away shake with the towel before the game. Nobody cares. You know what Magic fans want out of you? Production.

Save your antics for the celebratory parade—but help your team get their first. We get it, you like to have fun. Now it's business time.

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